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Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months

Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months



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Published by: jb37usa on Nov 21, 2008
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Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months
by Pandemic Flu Information Contributor “Dr Dave”Revised June 17, 2007
INTRODUCTION Although this document is somewhat speculative in nature, it contains a variety of pragmatic cautionary statements, health advisories, and domestic survival tips thathave been derived from authoritative scientific and empirical sources. Ordinarily, Iwould provide an appropriate footnote citation whenever I state a fact that is not con-sidered general knowledge within a particular field of study; however, time constraintsand confidentiality issues have not permitted that particular academic exercise. You will notice that this document tends to focus primarily on how to prepare for, andcope with, the economic impact of an influenza pandemic. Certainly, the impendingpandemic provided the initial motivation for this writing, but the need for personalself-sufficiency is certainly not restricted to pandemics. Indeed, most of the advice inthis document could be adapted to a variety of situations in which the production ordistribution of goods and services becomes disrupted for more than a day or two. Con-sidering how vulnerable we are to disasters, both natural and man-made, and consid-ering that each disaster may have economic consequences that could affect your fam-ily’s well-being, it simply makes good sense for every household to prepare to be self-sufficient for a certain duration of time. The greater the level of self-sufficiency youcan achieve right now, the lower the impact of an economic disruption or emergency.THE PANDEMIC SCENARIOThere are 144 known strains of avian influenza. H5N1 is merely one of them, andmany more strains of flu come from mammals, such as pigs, horses, and monkeys.Historically, the global flu pandemic rate is at least three per century (there were 10recorded pandemics in the last 300 years), so it is really not a matter of 
the nextpandemic will occur, it is simply a matter of 
. Do bear in mind that this particu-lar strain of flu is not like an ordinary seasonal flu that affects us during the wintermonths, killing an average of 36,000 Americans each year. H5N1 is much deadlier,both to birds and to humans. As of today, June 17
, 2007, the mortality rate in hu-mans has reached 75%. The H5N1 virus has killed birds in at least 56 countries and ithas killed humans in at least 11 countries. It has also evolved into at least 6 distinctsub-strains, or clades, each of which has infected and killed human beings.Unfortunately, no vaccine can be developed until the genetic material of H5N1evolves, or reassorts, into a clade that can be readily transmitted from human to hu-man. Even then, after a vaccine is successfully produced (a process that takes aboutsix months from start to finish), it will not be immediately available to the generalpublic. Since global flu vaccine production capability is only about 500 million coursesper year, the first several million will undoubtedly be distributed exclusively to politi-
 Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months
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cal leaders, military personnel, and civilians who hold mission-critical jobs in suchfields as medicine, law enforcement, and public utilities. Therefore, you might not beable to vaccinate your family until after the pandemic has passed. To complicate mat-ters,
, the drug that is given to patients with severe flu, is difficult to obtainand is not effective unless it is administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.So, get your
A.S.A.P. After the pandemic starts it will be too late.When H5N1 does eventually evolve into a clade that is easily transmitted from personto person, it is expected to lose some of its lethality, but it could still be far deadlierthan any flu the world has ever experienced. Many epidemiologists estimate that 50%of the global population will become sick with the flu and that 10% of the flu patientswill die. This would result in 300 million deaths worldwide. In the United Statesalone, that would be approximately 15 million deaths. Even if only 33% of Americansbecome ill and only 1% die, that would still be a loss of 1 million people. Althoughnobody can predict when the H5N1 virus will finally give rise to a severe pandemic,the World Health Organization believes that it is just a matter of time. This is be-cause migrating birds continue to spread the virus to domesticated birds, and becausethere are millions of people all around the world (including the U.S.A.) who live inclose proximity to domesticated birds. These factors create a recipe for disaster, sinceit gives the virus numerous opportunities to perform the genetic reassortments neces-sarily for effective human to human transmission.In addition to the risk from infected birds, there is a growing concern over H5N1’spotential to infect a variety of mammals–not just humans. There are confirmed casesof dogs and cats, both feral and domesticated, that have died of H5N1. The reportsabout cats is especially disturbing because cats have never had flu before. So, if it istrue that the virus is capable of spreading to a variety of mammals, this could indicatethat the much-feared genetic reassortments are taking place and that human to hu-man transmission is now inevitable. You should also bear in mind that thousands opeople have died from “flu-like” illnesses, but were never tested for H5N1, and thereare cases that were confirmed
 post mortem
, but did not test positive initially; there-fore, it is impossible to know just how far this flu has already spread.The infection and death rates from the 1918 “Spanish Flu” suggest that over thecourse of a severe pandemic lasting several months, at least 33% of the global popula-tion will eventually become ill with the flu. Therefore, we could expect that H5N1 willmake one-third of the world’s labor force too sick to work for at least two weeks perperson. In addition to the hours lost to employee illness, the global labor force couldcertainly suffer from an indefinite period of voluntary absenteeism, as healthy peoplebegin to practice “social distancing” in an attempt to avoid contact with those who maybe infected. There could also be a substantial number of otherwise healthy workerswho must remain at home for weeks or months to care for sick family members; and, if schools and day-care centers are obliged to close their doors, a lot of working parentswould have no choice but to remain at home with their children indefinitely.Beyond these temporary labor problems, substantial as they may be, it is likely that atleast 100 million workers around the world will die from the next flu pandemic, in-cluding thousands of people who hold jobs that affect your family’s lifestyle. The net
 Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months
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result of this labor force reduction will certainly be felt in long-term disruptions in theproduction and distribution of such basics as food, medicine, utilities, and public ser-vices. Therefore, when any such disruptions do occur, you will certainly want yourfamily to be prepared with the resources and knowledge for coping as comfortably aspossible for as long as necessary. How long is really necessary? If we are really lucky,it could be only a few weeks, but it will probably be several months. Although in a typical flu patient the very worst symptoms may come and go within amatter of a few days, it could take many weeks for the flu to make its way through anentire community–and that is just for the first wave. Flu pandemics typically occurin two or three global waves, stretched out over a year or more. Consequently, peoplewho did not become sick from the first wave would still be at risk of getting the fluduring any subsequent waves. It is important to note that a pandemic wave does nothave a clearly defined beginning or end. A wave is merely a period of time duringwhich a whole lot of people become sick more or less simultaneously. Between waves,however, many people will still be recovering and more people will become sick. Un-fortunately, it is the human interaction between the waves that is largely responsiblefor generating subsequent waves. You see, as flu cases diminish, people will let downtheir guard and begin to return to their old routines, even though the flu is still pre-sent in their communities. This unguarded behavior is what tends to cause the nextwave. In addition, the virus may continue to mutate, possibly acquiring the ability toreinfect and kill people who had previously survived it.Since there will be no time period during the pandemic in which it will be completelysafe to expose yourself to others, the only sure-fire way to prevent infection will be toisolate your family in your home and wait it out; and, since each wave could easily lasttwo or three months in any given community, with a month-long recovery period aftereach wave, you might feel compelled to isolate your family for one full year. While youmay not find it absolutely necessary to completely withdraw from society for such along time, you may have to cope with several months of economic disruptions duringthe pandemic and several more months of disruption afterward. Even conservativepandemic predictions assume that most communities will experience limited availabil-ity of commodities and services for at least a couple of weeks. Mainstream predictions,however, assume that there will be varying degrees of nation-wide economic disruptionlasting several months which will only become worse as time goes by. These disrup-tions will be followed by a lingering global recession lasting over a year. Although it is improbable that any town in the United States would have to cope witha total and simultaneous collapse in the distribution of food, medicine, utilities, andpublic services for more than a few weeks at a time, it is highly likely that every com-munity will have to adjust to sporadic and repeated disruptions over a period of sev-eral months. Some disruptions may be intermittent, but some may linger for quite awhile. However, since you can not know in advance which goods or services will beunavailable in your town, or for how long you might have to get by without them, itwould be prudent to prepare for complete and total independence and self-sufficiencywithin your own home for the minimum duration of a global pandemic, which is esti-mated to be at least six months. That level of preparation would reduce the impact of the disruptions and would provide a great measure of comfort for your entire family.
 Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months
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